Papers of John Adams, volume 10

To the President of Congress, No. 9

To the President of Congress, No. 10

To Thomas Digges, 25 September 1780 JA San, Fernando Raymond Digges, Thomas Church, William Singleton To Thomas Digges, 25 September 1780 Adams, John San, Fernando Raymond Digges, Thomas Church, William Singleton
To Thomas Digges
Amsterdam Sept. 25. 1780

The People on your Side, Seem determined to revenge themselves for the Loss of their Power, on those who have done all they could to Save it. I should not Say, all they could. They have never made an opposition upon Any Principle or System. The Man who condemns a Minister in one Breath for the American War, and in the next condemns him for not doing more in it, and not succeeding in it, will never make any great Hand of it. One who applauds the Americans for their Resistance and then condemns The French for coming in Aid of that Resistance and the Americans for accepting that Aid, will never make any great Figure. An Admiral who cannot serve against America and yet will Serve against the French in the American War, may well expect Keppells Fate.1 Mankind are not governed so. If a Man would lead others to a good End, he must lay down his Principle and his Plan; he must let others into it, and obtain their approbation of it, and then pursue it, through all its variety of Fortune and all its Consequences. But what is this to Us, who is in, or who out? The Nation will go to the End of its Tether, as Governor Bernard did, let who will be in or out.2 We know the worst of it, and are prepared. Let it come. The weaker our Ennemies before they make Peace, the Safer We shall be, and the longer the Peace will last. As to the Friendship of Great Britain towards America, it is gone to all Eternity. She can never forgive Us the Injuries she has done us.

Will you be So good as to send me, two or three Copies of the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe, and a Copy of Dr. Prices Population &c.

With great Regard yours


LbC (Adams Papers) directed to: “Mr Church.”


Adm. Augustus Keppel, a Rockingham whig and avowed political enemy of Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, opposed the war in America and refused to serve against the Americans. He had no such scruples about fighting the French and in 1778 was given command of the Channel fleet and led it in the indecisive battle against the 176French fleet off Ushant in July of that year. Keppel's failure to achieve a decisive victory resulted in his court-martial, which was seen by many as an effort by the ministry, and particularly Lord Sandwich, to make Keppel the scapegoat for their own failure (Mackesy, War for America , p. 202–211, 239–243; vol. 7:317–320).


JA refers to Francis Bernard, former governor of Massachusetts, who managed to alienate the initial goodwill of Massachusetts citizens toward him by going to extremes in the implementation of British colonial policy.